Protect Pets from Parvo Virus

By Irshaad Gangat

With the rise in the parvovirus in the Western Cape pet owner’s need to know why parvovirus is a killer! Vets are seeing an increase in the number of parvovirus cases at the moment, especially in puppies. Parvo is incredibly serious!

The best thing you can do though if you identify possible parvo symptoms? Get help fast.

Parvovirus (often referred to as parvo) is a virus that attacks the gut. For puppies, at such a crucial stage of their development, before they have had their vaccinations and when their immune system is still developing, it can also affect their bone marrow, cell development and heart. Parvovirus is highly contagious in unvaccinated puppies and dogs and can be deadly if left untreated.

Parvo is transmitted rapidly via the faeces or vomit of infected puppies and dogs. The virus is stubborn and can live outside the body, on surfaces, the grass and anything at all that has come into contact with it. Humans can also unwittingly spread the virus by touching an infected puppy and moving on to play with others pets. If your dog’s vaccinations are up to date, he or she is at significantly lower risk of catching parvo.

It can take between three and ten days for a dog to show symptoms after having been infected. Symptoms include:
•    Fatigue
•    an unwillingness to eat or drink
•    Vomiting
•    Diarrhoea
•    High body temperature

Treatment for canine parvovirus is about supporting the puppy or dog so that their body can fight off the virus themselves. The most dangerous aspect of the infection is the loss of fluids and severe dehydration caused by vomiting, diarrhoea and loss of appetite. This dehydration is life-threatening. Treatment therefore focuses on keeping the puppy or dog hydrated (through a drip) with medication to stop the vomiting and diarrhoea.
For treatment to be effective, it needs to happen fast. Without treatment, it’s highly unlikely a puppy or dog will survive.

Parvo can be prevented. All puppies and dogs should be vaccinated against parvo. It is one of the routine vaccinations given to puppies in three shots at around 6 to 8 weeks of age, then again at 10 to 12 weeks and the final dose at about 14 to 16 weeks. If you keep your dog’s vaccines up to date with boosters when required once every year, as recommended by your vet, they should have sufficient protection against parvo. Consult help from the nearest veterinarian or state veterinarian if your canine friend is unwell.

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